PORTLAND -- Scientists have warned for years that a Magnitude-9 earthquake could hit the Northwest at any time.
But for the first time models are able to accurately illustrate what kind of damage "The Big One" could cause.
The Oregon Department of Geology models show that the intense shaking would turn the soil to liquid and topple buildings in low-lying areas of the Willamette Valley, including Portland.
In the mountains the land would give way, causing landslides virtually everywhere in the coast range and the western parts of the Cascades.
But the coast would see the most dramatic damage.
“In addition to a tsunami, a subduction zone earthquake actually caused the land along the coast to sink permanently (in the models), in some cases as much as six or eight feet,” said spokesman Ian Madin.
He said the models will dramatically improve disaster preparations.